Rocket Boy and the Queen of the Stars

Since the release of Becoming Darkness I have written several more books in my quest to replace my former agent. My latest effort is a project I am particularly fond of because I have finally managed to combine my many passions and interests: writing, art, science fiction, space, classic 50s sci-fi movies, alternate history, and much more.

Here's part of my query for the book, will give you some idea of what it's about:

Rockets, robots, and rayguns! It’s 1956, the atom reigns, and in the lavishly illustrated YA raygun gothic novel Rocket Boy and the Queen of the Stars, (88,000 words/100 full page illustrations) atomic-powered cars soar amidst the towering spires of steel and concrete art deco-styled cities, vacuum-tubed mechanical men toil for humankind, and giant luxury starliners ply the causeways of interstellar space. These are the heady days of the Earth Commonwealth, and for sixteen year old Horatio Hornwell, born aboard Galaxy Lines’ vaunted Empress of Space, a ghost from the past is about to open a door to more adventure and opportunity than he bargained for.


When a distress call is intercepted during an otherwise routine cruise to the planet Amalthea, Horatio never imagines it could be the catalyst for a series of life-altering events. But the stars have other ideas. And with his seventeenth birthday fast approaching, even the prospect of death won’t dissuade him from doing whatever he can to escape from under the shadow of legal uncertainty that has clouded his life since the day he was born—a bureaucratic nightmare that has left him stateless and a virtual prisoner aboard the Empress. A nightmare now threatening any future he may have in the Commonwealth.

Responding to the distress call, a team led by the Empress’ Lieutenant Trixie Worli embarks upon a rescue mission, and Horatio tags along for the ride. But when they locate a ship gone missing nearly a decade before, things begin to spiral out of control. From the discovery of a girl frozen in time, to a run-in with Altara (a girl space pirate who may know more about Horatio’s past than he does), to an encounter with the fabled lost starliner Queen of the Stars, Horatio is steadily drawn into a daring and perilous quest for treasure that may not only lead to the resolution of one of the greatest mysteries in the history of space travel, but to startling revelations about his birth and the person he thought himself to be. There’s a lot at stake and danger is afoot, but if he can survive the many hazards along the way, he just might end up realizing that knowing where you are from does not necessarily translate into understanding who you are.


A picture book for the older set, Rocket Boy and the Queen of the Stars (a standalone with the potential for a series) is a hybrid straddling the intersection between conventional text narrative and modern graphic novel. It is retro sci-fi ambiance wrapped in a surfeit of modern sensibilities—think the video game Fallout and the movie Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

The story is a bit of a throwback, inspired by a host of childhood favourites, including the Heinlein juveniles (Starman Jones, Space Cadet, and The Rolling Stones in particular), The Adventures of Tintin, the British Eagle comics Dan Dare series, the SF serials (Buck Rogers & Flash Gordon), classic 1950s science fiction films, the sci-fi pulps (especially their fabulous covers), plus more contemporary fare in the order of Kenneth Oppel's fine Airborn trilogy. (If you haven't read the latter you really should; just a truly excellent series worthy of the accolades it has received.)

I am pleased with how ROCKET BOY AND THE QUEEN OF THE STARS has taken shape and it has already generated a lot of interest on Twitter and elsewhere as well phenomenal feedback from beta readers. Of course, it's agents and publishers who count, and there's no telling how they will react. As a writer you always hope for the positive, but these days agents are inundated with submissions, making the chances of being picked up almost as remote as winning the lottery. But as with the latter, you can't win if you don't try. Or as that old piece of wisdom goes: Better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all.

As mentioned earlier, I am illustrating this book with more than 60 pencil drawings, my first attempt at doing so. I've considered this approach in the past, but never felt confident enough to pull it off. With this project, however, I have created a text well-suited to illustrations, and so I cracked open mycollection of H and B pencils and set to work. To say it has been enjoyable ride would be an understatement: From writing to drawing, this book has been an absolute pleasure to create.


To the right are examples of the completed pieces from the book. I considered many different mediums before settling on pencils--primarily to mimic (somewhat) the interior illustrations of the old SF pulps and to emulate the look of grainy black and white film (prevalent in the science fiction serials and b-movies of the 30s, 40s, and 50s). A few of the images pay homage to the style of the Sci-Fi pulp illustrators (Virgil Finlay, H.W.Wesso, Leo Morey, etc.), and a couple are drawn as a tip of the hat to Tintin creator Herge (a favourite of mine since I purchased  my first Tintin adventure in Isfahan, Iran, back in 1970). There's also a nod to the works of the comic book/comic strip artists I grew up admiring--Jack Kirby, Russ Manning, Neal Adams, Dan Spiegle, Wally Wood, Milton Caniff, Raymond Alexander, etc.--and who influenced me in some of my art.


I hope this will provide you with an impression of what to expect in this fast-paced adventure. Peril awaits around almost every corner, and at some point soon--if all goes well--you'll be able to follow the story to its thrilling conclusion.

I occasionally post illustrations from the book on Twitter, so follow me there if you are interested in seeing more.


Becoming Darkness now available in paperback!

Becoming Darkness is now out in paperback and available in bookstores and online. It can also be purchased as an ebook, so be sure to check it out! And standby for future giveaways.

Becoming Darkess paperback edition
sequel to Becoming Darkness

All that is Darkness is now available for you to read!

As some of you may be aware, a completed draft of the sequel to Becoming Darkness exists. As the publisher has not optioned this, I have opted to release All that is Darkness for those readers of Becoming Darkness eager to discover the next part of the story. You can find it at Wattpad by simply clicking on the title that follows: All that is Darkness.

Writer's Digest Article

Check out my short article for Chuck Sambuchino's blog over at Writer's Digest. It looks at the lengthy process of getting Becoming Darkness  published. If you'd like to read it, click on the button below.

Becoming Darkness book trailer

Check out the trailer for Becoming Darkness. Original art, animation, and music done by me. A bit crude and somewhat cheesy, but it conveys some sense of what the book is about.

Atomagirl comic pencil sketch

Atomagirl and the giant robots of doom

Continuing my pin-up style poster series of artworks (initially inspired by the DC Comics Bombshells comic books), here is "Atomagirl." This is a wholly original character and is part of the Jennie Canuck universe. For more details, go to the Step-by-step page and/or watch the video on this site or on YouTube.

Nelvana of the Northern Lights coloured pecil comic sketch

Nelvana of the Northern Lights Step-by-step

As with the previous posters, this is inspired by the DC Comics Bombshells series and designed to reflect the popular pin-up art of the forties. In this case, Nelvana was actually a comic book hero created during the war, and her career ended soon after. For more information on the character and the step-by-step, go to the art section of the menu (or just click on the links here. There's also a speed art video of the making of this poster, so check it out.

Enchantress DC Bombshells coloured pencil sketch

Bombshells-inspired "Enchantress" Step-by-step

Enchantress is the fifth in the line of pin-up style posters I have been creating that are inspired by DC Comics Bombshells series. For more on the making of this art piece you can visit the Step-by-step: Enchantress section. Also be sure to watch the speed art video of Drawing Enchantress in the new video section of my site.

Jennie Canuck original Canadian comic book hero copyright Lindsay Brambles

Bombshells-inspired "Jennie Canuck" Step-by-step

The fourth in my line of pin-up posters inspired by the DC Comics Bombshells series and designed to mimic the pin-ups and nose art of WWII. This one is an original character of mine -- Jennie Canuck -- in a gender-bending homage to the WWII comic book character, Johnny Canuck. See more in the Step-by-step: Jennie Canuck section and check out Drawing Jennie Canuck, a speed art video in the site's video section.

Green Arrow DC comics Bombshells

DC Bombshells-inspired "Green Arrow" Step-by-step

Another in my DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS-inspired poster series. This is a gender-bending Green Arrow, in keeping with the female-centric ethos of the Bombshells universe. Think of this Arrow as an alternate universe version of Oliver Queen -- an Olivia Queen, if you will. For more, go to the Step-by-step. Also be sure to check out Drawing Green Arrow in the video section of this site.

Saturn Girl DC comics Bombshells

DC Bombshells-inspired "Saturn Girl" Step-by-step

I have recently completed another poster inspired by the DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS series. This is an original piece, not modeled after any extant Bombshells characters that I am aware of to date. The subject I've chosen to give the full pin-up treatment to is Saturn Girl from the Legion of Superheroes. See the "Step-by-step" and be sure to check out the video Drawing Saturn Girl  in the video section.

DC Bombshells Harley Quinn

DC Bombshells "Harley Quinn" Step-by Step

If you are a fan of comics -- and the DC Bombshells series in particular -- then check out the "Step-by-step" of "Harley Quinn" in her Bombshells guise. This is a mixed media (thought largely colour pencil) rendering I did for my oldest nephew, a die-hard Harley Quinn fan.

Becoming Darkness cover
Switch Press logo



From the July issue of SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: "...die-hard vampire fans will find much to be excited about. This weighty tome reads quickly and offers a new spin on the whole genre. Whispers of a second generation leave the door to a sequel wide open. VERDICT A definite addition for young vampire fans thirsting for fresh meat."

–Leah Krippner (School Library Journal)


From YA Books Central: "I found this book intriguing and hard to put down. ... Murder, corrupt governments, conspiracies, and a little romance make up this wonderful concoction Becoming Darkness. If you love twists and turns, good plot surprises and are intrigued by the concept of an alternative history where vampires exists and the Nazi’s won WWII – pick this book up!"

-Joanne Mumley, Staff Reviewer


From "Fans of vampire-focused young adult fiction looking for something a little edgier than Twilight are sure to love Becoming Darkness from Lindsay Francis Brambles. …. Combining elements of mystery, romance, and gothic fiction, there’s something for everyone to love in this fast-paced page-turner.

-Dana Hinders


From Pop Dose: "Brambles writes with eloquence and authority. .... Sophie has all of the qualities of a great heroine and the epic feel of the book is certainly cinematic. .... It’d make a great TV series, that’s for sure. Regardless, Becoming Darkness is definitely worth your time."

-Scott Malchus


Like everyone else living in Haven, seventeen-year-old Sophie Harkness is an Immune--a carrier of the genetic mutation that protects her from the virus Hitler unleashed upon the world more than half a century ago. A virus that wiped out most of humanity and turned two-hundred million people into vamps. But after her best friend is brutally murdered and several attempts are made on her own life, Sophie becomes determined to find answers to what seems to be a conspiracy running generations deep. And when she questions the peace treaty that keeps her small community protected, Sophie begins to discover terrible truths about herself and what it means to be human in a world ruled by darkness. 


Lindsay Brambles' debut young adult novel is a story of an alternate universe: Hitler won the war, our modern technologies never evolved, and the Nazis' terrifying reign still continues. This fast-paced novel will appeal to readers who guzzle up genre mashups and are looking for a fresh hybrid to sweep them away.


BECOMING DARKNESS is published by Switch Press, an imprint of Capstone, and is available in bookstores and online.

In case you missed it above, you will find a button that will take you to the free sample of Becoming Darkness that Switch Press is offering at their website. The sample includes the first 57 pages of the novel.

I have done some interviews with bookbloggers and have enjoyed the opportunity a great deal, so if you are a bookblogger and would be interested in doing an interview, please contact me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have about me, Becoming Darkness, or the writing process and getting  published.

BECOMING DARKNESS now available online and in bookstores near you.

Attention: Bookbloggers

Free Sample